June 26, 2010

La Esperanza

I arrived in Quito Thursday night and (finally!) met NA (the World Vets vet from Buffalo) and BL (the PAE Ibarra coordinatior). NA and I are staying at BL’s aunt’s farm in La Esperanza, a small town just outside Ibarra. I have an AWESOME room on the farm, and even though it’s about 40 degrees (F) out at night, I have a pile of super warm blankets and a nice cozy bed to snuggle in. Now I just wish my Hudson bullie was here with me!

We had a late night tea and cake with BL’s aunt Gloria and her 2 bestest friends, GA and LF. I was exaughsted from not sleeping on the plane (and referring back to a prior entry, there was a woman on the plane who was LITERALLY wearing a bra covered by a scarf. That was IT. Oh, well actually, she was wearing some flashy, “Hey-look-at-me-I’m-almost-naked” jewelry and Brittney-esque shades).

I slept like a baby, and woke up to see the farm in the daylight. Gloria’s neighbor puts her cows out to pasture in the back yard, so I was met with some friendly MOOS from the neighborhood vacas. Gloria has a handful of cats and dogs, all very fat and happy and excited to show me around the property.

Gloria is a very cool person – very ecologically minded with a humane spirit. She proudly showed me a dead scorpion she found in the driveway, and reiterated several times that he “died a natural death”. One of her dogs, Esperanza, was spayed by NA earlier (she’s been in Ibarra for a week already) and is now limping on her back leg in a very ACL-ish manner. Gloria claims she can massage it back to health, and I don’t know for sure if it was the massage or the Rimadyl, but Esperanza stopped limping for a few hours yesterday afternoon :)

NA and I hung out around the farm most of the morning, had breakfast with Gloria, went through our supplies and organized for the clinic. The newest dog on the farm is a cute little black dog named Nikki (after NA :)who is actually allowed in the house and hasn’t moved from the couch since I arrived. She just had an overall ADR look about her (Ain’t Doing Right) and has supposedly had intermittent vomit/diarheaa/anorexia/lethargy episodes since she arrived. She ran around the farm with me for a while, showing me the cow pasture and seemed overall AOK.

We were supposed to go salsa dancing in the afternoon, but BL never came to pick us up. Gloria took us out to lunch, after we re-checked a German shepard, Kaiser, who belongs to Gloria’s great-nephew or grandson. He was apparently showing signs of distemper (which I think is becoming the theme of the trip) and was doing better. We gave in another injection of vitamin B, which cures everything south of Mexico, then went to get ice cream/fruit salad in Ibarra. Yum!

BL was nowhere to be found, and we later found out that a friend of her’s was sick in the hospital. GA came to pick us up and took us to his house to make dinner! He is a really awesome guy, and I want to sneak him back to the States in my suitcase! He’s perfect – he cooks, cleans, drives us around, holds the door open – perfect! Except liking girls… *sigh*

BL came to his house and we had a DELICIOUS dinner, watched some crazy videos on YouTube, laughed, and after the dishes were cleaned and put away, we moved the kitchen table aside and GA and BL taught us how to salsa and meringue! We got back to the farm late and I passed out again (not as cold last night). This morning, NA and I were up and ready to go by 10am to the market in Otavalo.

But first, NA went running past my door with a stethoscope, then again with a thermometer – Nikki wasn’t doing well. Rapid, labored breathing, but no fever. Gloria was upset about a lot of things, and didn’t handle the dog situation well. She told us to just take her to the vet and get her out of the house. There were murmurings of distempter. We loaded her into GA’s car, and took her to the local vet. They have some sort of rapid test for distempter, which they did at the vet’s while GA and I went to the pharmacy to find IV lines and sterile water. When we got back, BL and NA were choaking back tears – Nikki tested positive for distempter.

Since she had been at Gloria’s house for 2 weeks, there was a pretty good chance she would recover from the distemper (as did Kaiser, who had the cornal edema signs of distemper and was now well into recovery). But, there was no room in any shelter or foster home for a possibly-infectious distemper dog, so she was euthanized. In the states, veterinarians are typically responsible for disposing of euthanized animals; in Ecuador, it is the owner’s responsibility. So we went to JA’s father’s house for shovels then off to a remote area to bury Nikki.

Everyone was pretty upset about the events of the morning, so we tried to make the best of the rest of the day. After lunch, we drove to a small town called Otavalo where there is a huge open market (an awesome place to barter for good deals on sweaters, jewelry and other handmade items). Then we drove to the next town over, Cotachachi, which is famous for leather crafts. JA drove us up the Cotachachi volcano to the lake at the top. We drove back to Ibarra just as the sun was setting and went to have parridilla (BBQ) for dinner – my new favorite food. The portions were HUGE, so NA and I saved our leftovers for catching street dogs. Surgery starts tomorrow! Wish us Buena suerte (good luck!)

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